As the newest member of Maranatha’s Theology Department, Dusty Sanderson describes his upbringing as being “raised in the church of baseball and the Church of Jesus Christ.” The son of two parents who met at Fuller Theological Seminary and coached him athletically as well as academically, he knew from a very young age that he was both a child of God and an athlete. At the age of 16, God ignited in him a passion for His Word, and he soon sensed a call to pursue sharing God’s Word through pastoral ministry and education.
While attending Azusa Pacific University, Mr. Sanderson played baseball, dove into theological studies, and engaged in elementary education and special needs ministry. Just before graduating, he was hired by Fellowship Monrovia Church and began his first job in local church ministry serving a multi-ethnic, intergenerational community. He simultaneously continued his studies in grad school where he began working with teens in middle school ministry. God deepened Mr. Sanderson’s desire to work with teens by allowing him to serve as a youth pastor to middle school and high school students at Glenkirk Church in Glendora. Those three and a half years were, in his words, “a powerful time to learn how to teach, lead, and minister to youth.” He summed the experience up as “trying to understand what it is for teens to own their faith, belong in God’s community, and live out their purpose as they discern God’s call on their life.”
In January 2020, God called Mr. Sanderson to Pasadena where he engaged in ministry at Victory Bible Church as the Director of Spiritual Growth and Leadership Development. The pandemic didn’t slow his work in ministry as he focused his efforts on working with small groups and doing community outreach. He describes that time as a “journey of discernment with God connecting the dots that eventually led me to Maranatha High School.” While his vocational endeavors had been primarily located in a local church context, he began to sense a call to academia. So, when God opened the door to a position in Maranatha’s Theology Department, it was the obvious next chapter in the story God had been writing in his life. “I love the school’s ESOs (Expected Student Outcomes) and the desire for every student to be known, challenged, and transformed,” Mr. Sanderson shared. “The teachers and coaches here care for each student as a person, which is very important for high schoolers.”
Mr. Sanderson is eager to help students through these transformative years and is an advocate of student service opportunities. He spoke of a trip in which he led a group of more than 40 students and 7 adult leaders to Birmingham, Alabama which proved transformative for himself as well as the students. “There’s just something special about students entering into an entirely different environment, worshiping in an unfamiliar space, and seeing how Jesus shows up in the midst of it. Immersing yourself in another culture that may not share your own socio-economic background allows you to grow in appreciation for the Body of Christ and helps shape your identity in Christ.”
Mr. Sanderson’s reflections beautifully describe the Maranatha family and the school’s desire for each student. “Being in community with others, getting to know each other and care for each other - that’s what builds a sense of belonging.” His journey has led him to Maranatha to serve the Lord’s purpose, and to utilize his gifts and experience for both Christian education and academics to bless the lives of his students. There is little doubt that those students will graduate from Maranatha High School more secure in their identity, belonging, and purpose.